The "Super Asian-American" panel might be one of the most charged and heady panels at Comic Con@Home this year. As the description says, "From blockbuster productions like Mulan and Shang Chi to streaming hits like The Half Of It, Asian Americans continue to make strides in media and representation. With race at the forefront of the national consciousness, from anti-racism protests to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in a post-COVID world, it's a poignant time to assess the state of Super Asian America."
The 10th annual (and first virtual) discussion of all things Super Asian American, brought together actor Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil), writer, producer and artist Deric Hughes (The Flash), actress Joy Regullano (White Fetish) and writer Bao Phi (Sông I Sing)."
Shinkoda is on fire this weekend between his candid remarks about Marvel and Jeph Loeb's racist treatment of Asian actors and his recounting his experiences and perspective on this panel.
A veteran of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Supernatural, The Rookie, and The Upright Citizens Brigade, Regullano talked about the current sea change in the industry where she's been auditioning and reading for more and more Asian-American roles for the likes of Netflix.
Peter Shinkoda Calls Out Racism
Shinkoda talked about white liberals' casual racism towards Asian culture who also appropriate Asian culture. He recalled white people who could gleefully make racist remarks but claim to be not racist because they liked Asian food. He talked about white liberals who insult Eastern beliefs and customs but turn around and adopt them – like Buddhism – in acts of cultural appropriation.
The Need for More Representation
The panel covered the current call for more Asian-American representation, how there's a drive for TV projects featuring Asian-American women now. "Ladies first," said Shinkoda, who believes Asian-American men as leads will follow. He discussed how actors like Daniel Dae Kim started out in genre and action roles and are now being relegated to playing doctors again, perpetuating the stereotype, even if Dae Kim is actually producing shows like The Good Doctor, and ensuring more diverse casting.
Vietnamese-American poet and writer Bao Phi talks about coming to American with his refugee parents and growing up poor in a mostly Native American. As a nerdy kid into comics and D&D, he found no real representation in his favorite pop culture. Deric Hughes, as a half-black, half-Japanese Asian American who grew up on Marvel comics, at least found some representation in manga and anime.
Shinkoda stressed the need for Asian-Americans to create content for Asian-American actors like himself to be in, and getting older, in his 40s, this means he might be aging out of a lot of roles. He's currently co-producing a Samurai series with Reginald Hudlin.
Hughes, who has written for Warehouse 14 and Legacies, is on the Board of Directors on the Writer's Guild of America, also called for more diversity and inclusivity in the industry, as well, producing an Asian-flavoured show in development.
What Does the Future Need?
Bao Phi called for a market and industry ecosystem that supports diverse – black, Asian, LGBTQ – content that sustains itself separate from the mainstream – Hollywood – industry. He also called for an ethical way of creating content and an ecosystem that does not hurt other communities and denigrate them in order to succeed. And the moderator pointed out, consumers, artists, producers are part of the same ecosystem, and events like Comic-Con are an expression of that.
The panel reiterated that Asian-American culture is diverse in itself – there are black Asians, trans Asians, LGBTQ Asians, not to mention the non-monolith cultures – Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino et al.
Shinkoda talked again about pulling back from acting to do more production to create content. And he flat out said it: "There's too much racism in Hollywood."
The current mood is ripe for creating new stories because there's a hunger for it. Hughes debunked the notion that Asian material only has an Asian audience. Bao Phi revealed he had been working on a Vietnamese zombie apocalypse novel for 10 years. It touched on themes of racism, internment camps, and the exploitation of poor immigrants for free labor and fodder. He finished it 5 months before Covid hit, and Asian creators are still at the mercy of industry gatekeepers. However, he talked about exploring video games that are starting to call for diverse stories and representation.
The Kids Need to Create Their Stories
Shinkoda said, "Listen to your kids. They have a better clue for how to negotiate their way through this world."
Regullano offered her advice to aspiring creators, actors, artists: keep going, keep doing, know your rules, don't compromise. There's no shame in changing careers or switching choices or tactics. It's okay to make money first. Tell your story and do your thing because you're the only one who can do it.
Bao Phi addressed Asian kids who get pressure from parents who don't encourage working in the arts. He said understood parents stressing the need to earn and survive over the arts, and encourages everyone to keep creating. The key is to never quit. If you're non-white or a woman or poor, it's harder. It's about how to keep going and survive. It's about not quitting.
Everything summarized here barely touches on the subjects the panel touched on during the hour. It's well worth your time watching the whole thing to hear them tell their stories, which are entertaining, surprising, and insightful.
A panel like this on YouTube might reach more of the kids who need to see than just being at Comic-Con.